A 19-year-old British-Belgian pilot on Wednesday landed her plane at an airstrip near Frankfurt, Germany, a step away from becoming the youngest woman to fly solo around the world.
Zara Rutherford told reporters she wanted to “sleep for a week” after exiting the single-seat Shark ultralight plane at Engelsbach airfield, a few kilometers from Frankfurt. If all goes according to plan, Rutherford will land on Thursday in Kortrijk, Belgium, where her journey began on 18 August.
A journey of about 51,500 kilometers took her across the Atlantic Ocean, over Iceland and Greenland, and into New York City. From the US East Coast and the Caribbean to Colombia and then through Central America and the US West Coast to Alaska and through the Bering Strait to Russia, south to South Korea, Indonesia, India, the Middle East and back to Europe.
The journey was more challenging as she took off without the aid of flying instruments or a pressurized cabin.
Weather in Asia, minor equipment issues and visa problems held him back from his schedule for several days. But at this point, Rutherford told reporters he was happy to be almost done.
She said her big goal is to use her experience to encourage other young women to take to flight or study science, technology and math “and other areas they might not have thought of.”
Rutherford plans to go to college next September to study engineering in the UK or the United States.
If she lands in Belgium as planned on Thursday, Rutherford would have broken a record set by American aviator Schiesta Vaze, who was 30 when she held the current record for the youngest woman in world singles in 2017. Record was made.
Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press and Reuters.
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